Once Bitten, a Few Times Shy – When Valentine’s Multiply by Andy

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Did you hear the story about boy marries girl then girl tries to kill boy then boy runs away from girl and divorces her and swears off girls (well not wholly) and then another girl asks out same boy and the new girl marries the boy and they all lived happily ever after? If you have not heard that story, then Valentines Day is a great day to hear it.

In 1992, I met the girl of my dreams. She was pretty, nice and was the type of girl many boys would have fallen in love with. I was working my dream job as a cop, and now, I was marrying the girl I assumed I would be with my entire life.  After only a few months, the problems began. There would be several events that would lead to me leaving the job. My first wife was a diagnosed manic-depressive with very violent tendencies and a huge appetite for alcohol. Over the seven years of marriage, she pulled my service weapon on me several times, many times waking me up to the barrel of a Smith and Wesson. She pulled a radio out of the wall swinging it by the cord striking me numerous times in the head. I had abrasions all over my hands from covering up my head. When the police showed up to the police officers house to arrest her one of my supervisors saw the cuts on my hand and told me he was going to have my ass once he could prove I was beating her. I left the job because she wanted to move home, and, quite frankly, I knew I would lose the job if I did not get away from her. I believe when you fall in love and marry you don’t leave unless your options are exhausted. We moved to Ohio and things got worse. After several months and a very violent final episode, I left Ohio. Thanks to some friends, I made in to the Birthplace of Flight and my parents.  I escaped and started over. New life, new job, and that concludes the prologue to my story.

I took a job at a grocery chain and for nearly a year I kept my head down and worked. I saved money and had no plans on dating. Near the end of the first year, I got a girls phone number and gave her mine. The first time we talked on the phone it was three in the morning, and she was asking me to come over to her home because she was drunk and wanted me. We had never even been on a date and only spoke a few times. My experienced crazy meter went off, and I never talked to her again. Strike one.

Like a moth to a flame, I started to talk to another girl a couple months later and, in no time, she became obsessive and frighteningly clingy. Strike two.

I was promoted quickly twice at my job and transferred stores. I worked long hours and was truly thinking that I would never date again because I only attracted crazy. Maybe I needed to bat for my own team? There was a girl that worked in the pharmacy at the store I was a manager in. She was cute, had pretty eyes, and wore glasses. I never gave it too much thought. I thought she was cuter than most but I darn sure was gun shy. I noticed her, but left it at that. I noticed many pretty girls that walked in the store and even briefly spoke to some just to make conversation or maybe there was a part of me that did not want to forget how to talk to a woman. But the girl in the pharmacy was the one I often thought about. There were a couple girls who worked in the store that showed great interest in me, but one was crazy and the other was married which by default made her crazy because I was not her husband. Strike three and four!!! I was done.

I was building a display in the back of the store when a girl from the pharmacy approached me. She was not THE girl and I figured she had a business question. She asked me if I was single, and I said yes. She said that if I was interested, the Pharmacist was off for the next four days and wouldn’t mind going on a date with me. THE girl was the pharmacist. I did not know this fact because she was so young I assumed she was a tech or cashier. I took the number and sat on it for four days. I waited until her last night off to call her because I did not really want to go on a date and I figured if I called sooner I might have to go on one. Did I mention I was gun shy? We talked for hours and the first date was planned.

The first date was a humdinger. I took her to a coffee shop and made the mistake of giving her coffee and rock candy. Her mouth was in overdrive, and I drank it in like a fine wine. The next few dates were the same. We dated for several months and crazy never ever showed up. One day, I was talking to her mother, and she made the comment that if I did not marry her then they would find someone that would. She said this as a joke, but I took it to heart and asked her to marry me. My only regret was not asking her father first but it was never an issue. We were married in West Virginia and still crazy never showed, but it would.

After we were married, a series of events occurred over the years that were just life moments. The funny thing about life moments is that the way you deal with them as a couple defines the strength of your marriage. I had a surgery that was not expected, but it was not life threatening either. I can still remember her telling the doctor he gave me medications I was having a reaction to, and he better switch up what I was getting. It was a lion protecting her pride. Even in a drugged stupor, I recognized how dedicated she was to me.

A hurricane was approaching Virginia Beach and most hurricanes missed us, but this one was on target. The night before the storm my wife was involved in a horrendous car accident. She would require a combination of stitches and staples that when counted were well into three digits. She lost a great deal of her memory, and it completely changed her from that day forward. I did not sleep for two days watching over her after I got her home. The hurricane pounded our home, and thankfully, we were one of the few that never lost power. The storm passed, and she was unresponsive. I threw her in the car and sped to the hospital. The roads were a mosaic of fallen trees and signs. The hospital took care of her, and finally, that night I rested.

We wanted a child and quickly found that we had infertility issues. We fought through miscarriages and several years of fertility treatments and gave up. One day, she told me (and I was not given an option) that we were trying one more time through IVF. I begged no because I could not see her hurt anymore. Good thing she doesn’t listen to me because now our daughter is five.

This past year I lost my job due to downsizing. It was stressful. I had a job lined up but it was the same job I was losing for less pay still serving the same company that downsized me. My job was farmed out to another company. The company I had worked for fifteen years was not keeping some of its promises. I would go from happy to angry at the flip of a switch. Some of the people I worked with misunderstood my emotions and that only made things worse. The first few months of the new job were frustrating. The job ended up being a blessing and things began to smooth out. I love my new company and am no longer angry with my old company.

My wife never wavered in her support. She never made me feel that I was not loved, special. Even when I was at my worst she was there. She has always been my rock. No matter what life has thrown at us in over a decade she is there. I do not take her for granted but I never doubt that she will understand me and when the time is right play my devils advocate.

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Love is one of those things that you know when you see it. You cannot define love because it is different things to different people, but love is truly what gets me through the good and the bad. My wife, Shannon, taught me to take chances, trust myself, and not be afraid to fail. I learned to let go. I hope you all have this kind of love or find this type of love. I love you, Shannon. Happy Valentines Day!!!

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